Microsoft’s big list of upcoming features for Windows 11 includes some major behind-the-scenes optimizations and improvements for PC games. The software giant plans to bring its Xbox HDR Game Calibration app to Windows 11 and run older games with less input lag, Auto HDR, and Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) when run in a window instead of full screen. .
The upcoming Windows HDR Calibration app will allow PC gamers to improve the color accuracy and consistency of an HDR display, just like they do on Xbox. It includes three test patterns to efficiently calibrate HDR, and Windows 11 testers will soon have access to the app ahead of general release.
Windows 11 ships with the Auto HDR feature of the Xbox Series X/S consoles, and Microsoft is now making some optimizations for games with windows that allow them to support Auto HDR and VRR. The optimizations can also “significantly improve latency” for older games that run in windowed mode, according to Microsoft.
A new setting “Optimizations for games with windows” appears in the graphical area of the Windows 11 settings interface and applies to older DirectX 10 and DirectX 11 games. While in the past you usually had to play games in full screen to get all the latency and performance benefits, Microsoft has made changes to DirectX in both Windows 10 and now Windows 11 to boost games that run in windowed mode.
“This new optimization applies specifically to games with windows and borders without windows, because when you play in full screen, a similar optimization already exists, and this new setting ensures a consistent experience no matter what mode you play in,” explains Hannah Fisher, a program manager on the graphics and DirectX team at Microsoft. “You don’t have to worry about DirectX 12 games, because they already take advantage of the new presentation mode.”
These new optimizations essentially upgrade how a game is presented on a screen to a more modern model. This is known as the modern flip model, and while many games already use it, thousands do not. Bungie just moving Lot 2 to this modern flip model with the upcoming witch queen expansion next week, allowing players to get the same performance in windowed mode and enable HDR.
While such features sound promising for older games, there can be bugs and issues. Microsoft is allowing PC gamers to opt-in to these optimizations in Windows 11 test releases this week, and you can even exclude specific games or apps if you notice problems. “We disable apps that have known issues by default to make sure you have the best settings without doing a lot of guesswork about what could be wrong,” Fisher says.
Microsoft has only just started testing these new gaming additions to Windows 11, so it could be months before they are fully available to all users. The software maker revealed earlier this week that it now plans to deliver new Windows 11 features more regularly, rather than a major annual drop full of changes.